After our previous experiences getting our bearings here in the wonderful town of Herceg Novi, we figured it’d be a good idea to try to take a little day trip and see how we could manage the system. Worst-case scenario, we’d end up stranded and have to catch a taxi. They’re very reasonable here, so it wasn’t really a concern.
Not as reasonable as the bus, though! After a chat with our wonderful, amazing, cute landlady, and some quick map studies, we figured we could take the bus to the small port village of Kamenari, where we could catch a ferry across the bay to its companion port village of Lepetane. We’d then catch another bus to the town of Tivat, which is where Montenegro’s second airport is. It’s also supposed to be beautiful, as well as undergoing a “renaissance” as a fancy village for the rich and famous. Not our thing, but more on that later.
It was another scorching day, and we walked to the nearest bus stop. After waiting for a while, we caught the bus marked with our destination and paid a mere €1.30 each for the fifteen-to-twenty-minute ride down the coast to Kamenari. As is usually the case, everything was easier than it seemed. There were a few ferries at the port, and we jumped on the one that was being loaded up. They all go to the same place across the bay, dozens of times a day, so there’s pretty much no chance of catching the wrong boat. (And if we did, new adventure!)
The ferry is free for pedestrians, so we entered and climbed upstairs to a better vantage point to see the Bay of Kotor in the distance. The ride was literally less than 10 minutes, and we soon found ourselves disembarking in Lepetane.
This is where I take a tangent to tell you that bus stops are almost always not marked with any information. I think we’ve only ever once seen a bus stop that had an actual schedule on it. You can find a bus stop by locating bus shelters, the occasional bus stop sign, other people waiting, and/or often a kiosk selling what kiosks sell. If all goes to pot, you can just ask in broken Mother Tongue, and the wonderful people here will point your dumb ass in the right direction. Gdje autobus ka Herceg Novi is terrible, incorrect Mother Tongue. But it works and in that particular case, we were pointed in the right direction.
So then, a bus shelter at the outside edge of the loading dock was our sign. We knew we needed to go south, so we already knew which side of the street to be on. Having the sea on one side certainly helps with directions if you’re not a map nerd like I am. Outside of the annoying, unofficial taxi driver who wouldn’t quit bothering us for a fare to Tivat (“Only five euro! Bus is male [small]! Bah!”), and it being so hot out, the wait was 20-30 minutes and the Kotor-Tivat bus arrived. It was one of those small “buses” that looks like a hotel shuttle, and it was packed. Fortunately, this place isn’t sterilized by the west yet, and we were able to play standing room only on a “bus” not made for standing room only. Tickets cost €0.70 each to Tivat, and we landed there in less than 15 minutes.
I’ve read that the official bus station is now two kilometers outside Tivat. I cannot confirm or deny that, but I can confirm that if you tell the bus driver to drop you at the center of Tivat, he will. That’s how we got there, anyway. This seems to be the case for smaller buses and locals, so why not give it a shot?
Disembark, and we’re in Tivat. First question: Where the hell are all the people? It’s September – the beginning of off-season – but it’s still hot as hell outside and there should be people here. Amiright? During the course of our first fifteen minutes walking, we probably saw less than 50 people. Not exactly bustling for this small town with big ambition. It was also a Saturday, so you’d think people would be around.
The streets were nearly empty, the cafés were nearly empty, the beaches were nearly empty. We found it somewhat bizarre. Whatever, though. We wanted to take a day’s journey and we had to see Tivat at some point. After wandering around the marina, the beach, and going to the closed-for-siesta tourist office, we realized we were already in the center of town and there wasn’t really anything there. We stopped at a local café-restaurant and had salads.
Shortly after, we walked to an old fortress and a church. Frankly, there wasn’t much to see and we needed nothing from the retail shops around. We don’t hike and had no designs on going up into the hills when it was so hot outside.
This is where it gets aggravating. We had heard of the new Porto Montenegro. A gazillionaire Canadian bought one of the marinas, determined to turn Tivat into the “Monte Carlo of the Adriatic” or some bullshit like that. Great. Nothing to help a new nation along like throwing a bunch of billionaires and a fake city at it. To each their own, but this is where shit turned into the Truman Show.
We found Porto Montenegro. It was hard to miss, given the massive billionaire yachts anchored next to it. The entire area is gated, and reminded me of being in a business park-slash-shopping center in Las Colinas, Texas, when I was younger. If you don’t know that town, just think sterile and new with a bunch of shops that no one uses. (I’m sure people went to all these places during the high season.)
Anyway, the entire area features new apartments, upscale boutiques, fancy restaurants, a playground for the trust fund babies, and nothing at all that looks like Montenegro. It actually felt like a movie set. I’m happy if it brings jobs and prosperity to the locals here. And if rich people want this shit, then so be it. However, you can retain the heritage of a place and make it upscale without gating it off and making it look like an open-air shopping center in Southern California.
It made us both more than a bit annoyed. We got the hell out of there before nausea set in, and made our way back to the bus. We didn’t actually know where the bus was, but we just started walking north out of town and stumbled across a kiosk and bus shelter. After waiting for nearly an hour and turning down taxi rides back to Lepetane – including one from the same guy who hassled us at the port (this time he was wearing a different shirt)! – and not being picked up by the first bus for reasons unbeknownst to us, a full-size bus showed up and we made our way back to the ferry.
Jump back on, ride across, get off, ask in broken Mother Tongue where the bus stop is, and wait for another half-hour for the bus. On the road again, we made our way back to Herceg Novi, and then walked down the hillside/mountainside to one of our favorite restaurants by the beach.
Tivat is probably worth a visit. In high season, it’s probably party time there. If you own a yacht (which means you aren’t even reading this), you will probably like it for all the fancy people shit they have at Porto Montenegro. Plus, you can tell your rich friends you went to Montenegro. Ooh-la-la.
Honestly, we didn’t really like it. The people were nice and the restaurant experience we had was a good one. The scenery is excellent, all of the marinas are beautiful, and the beaches were nice like they are in the rest of this wonderful country.
But, for people who don’t shop like maniacs or party like party people, it wasn’t our thing. I’m sure that someday, the real estate there will be even more overpriced and fancy people will abound. Hell, they might even get outdoor escalators like Monte Carlo has. (Are you listening, billionaire guy? I guess you probably have those planned already. Classy.)
At this point, we were very happy that we had opted to live in Herceg Novi instead. I do recommend a day trip to Tivat for the experience or if you’re traveling through; but unless you are into the above, it probably won’t strike your fancy. Glad we went? Absolutely. Would we go back? Most likely not.
You can find many more photos from our trip to Tivat on our Facebook page.
Thoughts or comments? Have you ever been to Tivat? Let us know what you think down below!
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